Pass Me The Patis Please?

3 Nov

Did you mean toyo or patis?

***DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURES OF THE CONDIMENTS, LECHON KAWALI, LARSIAN SELECTIONS AND PUNGKO-PUNGKO. I got them on the net. Credits to the owners who took and own those pictures***

If you’re from anywhere in the Philippines and you hear this, you would instinctively reach for the bottle of Rufina or Lorin. But if you’re in Cebu, they will look at you confused and sometimes irritated. If they ask you for the patis, hand them the toyo. I’M SERIOUS.

Wherever we got this trait from I really don’t know. I would laugh at friends and make jokes if they’d ask me to hand the patis. This is how different Cebuanos prefer their food and condiments. We find ourselves one with the rest of the Philippines, but separate from others especially when it comes to food.

Adobo or Lechon Kawali?

In my native island, I could find food that’s not in Luzon. I can find it in Mindanao though, especially since most people who live in some areas originated from the Visayas. And quite frankly, I would rather prefer our adobo and dinoguan. Now, there’s one dish you don’t want to confuse here as well – ADOBO. In Luzon and in some other parts of the country and the world, Adobo is sauteed pork with soy sauce and some bay leaves. But Cebu’s version of Adobo is get this – Lechon Kawali – and I am not kidding you. We use both terms for lechon kawali and the real Adobo. THAT’S HOW DIFFERENT WE TEND TO GET.

A normal array of selection at Larsian's

There is a lot to the Cebuano palate than I can explain here on my blog. For one we have this undeniable love for everything grilled. We love our grilled and barbecued food not just on Sundays, but we want it every day if we wanted to. When you walk down alleys or the bigger streets of the city, you will surely find a smoking stand where people line up to get their daily dose of barbecue. That’s why the Larsians theme is such a hit. You want grilled food at low cost? Try AA BBQ with branches all over the place. The toyo+suka+green tomato sawsawan is naturally the first course of the meal for some people, but these are mere condiments to others.


Another Cebuano staple are innards of the chicken, pig and sometimes the cow (not popular though). We LOVE our dose of uric acid even when can no longer move our thumbs and other joints because of arthritis. Try having lunch with me at the local pungko2 where you can enjoy your crispy fried chicharon bulaklak at 10pesos a piece. THAT’S A BARGAIN… Dip it in Sukang Bisaya with LOADS of white onions and you won’t care if you’ll live to see the daylights of tomorrow. Pungko2 is generally a small roadside ensemble of a small table, some 3-4 benches that could fit 2-3 people in it. You lay out your plastic on the table, grab some goodies in another plastic to have it chopped and you have instant meals. The plastic on the table IS your plate, mind you. You eat with your hands with some hanging rice – puso – to combat your need for carbs. To some this can be dirty, yucky or whatever you might call it, but to us, this is the mother of all cuisine. You can spot at one time or another a car parked by the side with loads of moneyed kids who eat pungko2. And they come back for more.

My First Taste of Zubuchon in 2010

And who could forget our love for lechon? NO ONE COULD. It’s actually a Cebuano staple almost every occasion or to some every Sunday. They say, we have the best lechon’s in the country and I would have to agree with that. Even Anthony Bourdain does. There’s just something with how they roast and season the pig that makes it so delicious from outside in. Don’t you just love that cracking sound you get as you bite that crunchy, salty roasted pig skin? And thanks to the demand, it’s possible to send and bring some abroad. But what makes it so much different from all other Lechons in the country? It’s the patis… toyo, I mean.

There is so much to a Cebuano’s palate that I could write about. Sometimes we’re weird, sometimes plain. At other times we never learned to let go of our old habits and dishes that we have grown to love. If I would live in another place, which I hope would not happen any sooner, I would long for Mama’s cooking or carenderias in Cebu. I will always long for Humba, Utan Bisaya, Cebu Lechon, and all things else that reminds me of home. This is why I love Cebu. And it’s time you should too 🙂

at the local tabo in Liloan which happens every Sunday


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